Cape Town - Residents in some Khayelitsha informal settlements walk as far as 5km to report crimes, while police take up to an hour to respond when called out.
This is what the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry, which is investigating alleged police inefficiencies in the township, was told during inspections in loco yesterday.
Commission chairwoman, retired Justice Kate O’Regan, and commissioner and former National Prosecuting Authority head Vusi Pikoli, and lawyers for the police and civil society organisations, visited the TR-Section informal settlement.
They were taken on a tour by resident Welcome Makele, a member of the Social Justice Coalition (SJC).
Makele told Justice O’Regan that part of a road leading to the Nolungile train station was a mugging hot spot because street lights were broken.
Residents used the road to get to work. Most attacks occurred at about 5am and in the evening when people were returning from work. Makele said schoolchildren also used the road.
Makele said police took more than an hour to respond when residents reported crime in the road.
“When people go to the Khayelitsha police station, which is situated in Site B, they are turned away and told, ‘We don’t deal with your area, go to Lingelethu West’. But Lingelethu West is far. You could get robbed again along the way before even reporting the first incident.”
Makele said SJC members had interviewed the area’s residents about vigilante murders and some had admitted to having taken part in one, but they refused to give details.
He showed the commissioners a stretch of road near the taxi rank in Site C, which he said was a hot spot for robberies.
But policeman Atwell Nodume said it was not a hot spot and few crimes were reported there as criminals feared taxi drivers operating there. Most hot spots were near shebeens, he said.
Nodume said police did not have enough manpower to cover all areas.
Justice O’Regan said Lingelethu West police had identified 17 crime hot spots in their precinct.
The commission also visited the Lingelethu West, Harare and Khayelitsha police stations. An inspection was conducted at the Khayelitsha police’s community service centre – where members of the public are assisted with opening cases – the holding cells, and a shipping container used as a storage facility for dockets.
“We have a range of questions that Advocate Pikoli and I will put to the brigadier and representatives of the other parties involved in the commission,” Justice O’Regan said. She said all three station commanders would testify before the commission.
Commission secretary Amanda Dissel said documents on completed vigilante attack investigations had been received. Others were pending. During an inspection in JPS section last night, Khayelitsha police station’s Brigadier Sizakele Dyantyi said poor infrastructure affected policing.
“There are no proper roads. To get to shacks you have to get there on foot. If you are two officers alone, you have to get back-up,” Dyantyi said.
Advocate JC Gerber, from the Department of Community Safety, said residents were left unprotected because police did not patrol at night.
But said Dyantyi: “Local government needs to create the infrastructure. If you have the road you can patrol, but if you don’t it is very difficult.”